Buried Treasures: Acquiring Advanced Dictionary Skills


If you are a regular reader of the blog posts on this site, you may recall that our curriculum specialists occasionally identify and describe some of their favorite SAS Curriculum Pathways resources. For example, 5 SAS Curriculum Pathways Hidden Gems highlights valuable—but often overlooked—lessons in math, English, science, social studies, and Spanish.

I’d like to take a slightly different approach with this post. Rather than identifying my favorite English language arts resources or those that are “hidden gems,” I will look within resources to reveal treasures that you may not have been aware were there. And because so many precious jewels are lurking within the hundreds of resources available, this blog will be the first in a series called Buried Treasures.

Let’s begin with a vocabulary building lesson titled Greek and Latin Prefixes and Roots (QL #1056). As the title suggests, students learn the meanings of Greek and Latin roots and prefixes and use them to determine the meanings of unfamiliar words. So when they discover that the Greek prefix hemi- means half, for example, they can begin to guess the meaning of hemisphere.

Using this lesson, students study selected Greek and Latin prefixes and roots and their meanings.

Using this lesson, students study selected Greek and Latin prefixes and roots and their meanings.

However, the lesson’s title does not reveal the little nugget of unexpected treasure you’ll find if you delve further into this lesson. In a handout called Developing Dictionary Skills, students compare entries in various dictionaries and define typical abbreviations, such as these:

Bibl., colloq., derog., euphem., naut., and, of course, Gk.

Students then address a series of questions designed to deepen their understanding of how dictionaries are constructed. Here are just a few examples:

  • What is a cross-reference? How is it indicated?
  • What is a phrasal verb? Give an example.
  • What is a nidiom? Give an example.
  • What does the superscript number next to each entry indicate?

So in a lesson about Greek and Latin roots and prefixes, you’ll find a mini-lesson on advanced dictionary skills. Who knew?

That’s a question I intend to answer often over the next few months as we discover more buried English language arts treasures.


About Author

Terry Hardison

Terry Hardison oversees the development of English language arts resources for Curriculum Pathways. Prior to joining SAS, Terry worked for 21 years as a teacher and as a district-level English language arts supervisor.

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